Truth is, I often struggle to know what to do with myself after finishing a new draft.
The cycle goes something like this:
Start a new draft > Struggle through the first couple of chapters > Settle in to the story > Forget the concept of ‘spare time’ even exists for a month or two > Finish the draft > Rejoice > Spend a few days catching up on housework, bingeing on tv shows, etc, while fighting the feeling that There’s Something Important I Need To Be Doing > Force myself to relax, and to not start writing something new > Twiddle my thumbs…
At about that point, I do one of two things, each of which might have a good outcome or a bad outcome, depending on the situation.
A. Start planning/writing the next book.
Good: I leap into it with the fire of a thousand suns, using the momentum from writing the last book to get me on a roll with this one. It gets written fast and well.
Bad: I struggle along for a few days, realise I don’t have the mental reserves or the plot/character ideas to write this thing, and stop. Sometimes I come back to it at a later date. Sometimes it gets abandoned forever.
B. Don’t start planning/writing the next book.
Good: I give myself time to rest and recharge. My mind needs it. Usually two weeks to a month is about right. At the end of that time, I come back to writing refreshed, all cylinders firing, and with enough momentum/enthusiasm left from the last book that I don’t take too long to hit the flow again.
Bad: I give myself time to rest and recharge. A month stretches into two… or maybe six. By the time November and NaNoWriMo rolls around, I’ve basically forgotten how to write a book and every word is like pulling teeth.
I finished the draft on September 6th, exactly a week ago. Right now I’m in the “Twiddling My Thumbs” stage. Yesterday I started planning the rest of the series in more depth — and mate, this thing is huge! As in, multiple-spreadsheets huge — but I’m not going to start writing the next book for another week or so.
I’ll give my brain a rest, let my batteries recharge. I might even give myself all of September off and start the next book on October 1st. That would take me through to the end of November with that draft, if it’s as long as I think it will be, which will overlap nicely with NaNoWriMo.
Or I might start it earlier if I’m ready sooner. Plans change.
I’ll see how I go.